Sunday, July 10, 2011

Geektastic edited by Holly Black

Geektastic edited by Holly Black

Rating: PG-13; 4 stars

Summary: In short, Geektastic is an anthology about geeks, edited by the lovely Holly Black. There are 29 pieces in the anthology, though only half of those are stories; between each story is a one-page comic. The authors present in this anthology include such YA giants as Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Scott Westerfield, and John Green. Each author only has one story, with the exception of the two editors, Black and Cecil Castellucci, both of whom co-wrote all the comics, as well as the first story in the anthology. The stories are varied, with each author covering a different aspect of geekdom.

Opinions: I didn't expect to like Geektastic as much as I did. I checked it out mostly because of my love of Holly Black. Although I consider myself an academic nerd, I'm not really into geek culture. I don't obsessively game; I tend to not prefer stories set in space (there are exceptions, and I don't hate the space-bound story; I just don't go looking for them). I've never been to any sort of con. I don't watch Dr. Who. But despite my limited knowledge and experience of geek culture, this anthology was incredibly easy to follow. And as a moment of irony: I took a break from writing this review to check out something on an ebook library, and listed on the front page was the link for Conversational Klingon. Weird. But I digress. The stories in this were just really interesting. And there was a really wide variety. I mean, I suppose I should have expected it, since this is an anthology and not just a collection by one author.

There are comics in between each of the stories in this anthology. They didn't do much for me. It's not that I hated them, because many of them were clever and amusing. It's just...ok, here's the thing. It's been so long since I've been able to read for pleasure, that I'm obsessed with quantity. I need to read 5 books this week. I need to finish this book today, or else. And all those comics were was a check mark on the table of contents. They just didn't stick with me. And this is probably a personal thing because I treat reading like a competition, but that's what they were to me.

There was one major issue I had with a lot of these stories: gender of the narrator. There is a stereotype that geeks are guys more often than girls, but a lot of the narrators sounded like girls. There were several times when I had to wait several pages or more to find out the gender of the narrator for sure. And when pretty much the entire anthology is written in the first person, this constant guessing-game can get rather irritating.

The formats of these stories were really interesting: one story is a letter, one an audition monologue, and well, you get the idea. Although the majority of them were written in first person, it didn't feel like just a bunch of stories in the first person. They were all so unique that it balanced out.

A few of my favorites, for those who read this anthology, “Once You're a Jedi, You're a Jedi All the Way,” “Definitional Chaos,” “I Never,” “Quiz Bowl Antichrist,” “The Quiet Knight,” and “Secret Identity.” My top three are definitely “Definitional Chaos,” “Quiz Bowl Antichrist,” and “Secret Identity.”

I think my favorite thing about this anthology is the variety of geekdom explored. Yeah, you have D&D, LARPing, and Star Trek vs. Star Wars. But it also covers quiz bowl/academic challenge competitions, marching band, theatre geeks (you can tell I'm one by how I spell theatre :P), dinosaurs, superheros, author/fan interaction, the list goes on and on. I foolishly came to this anthology expecting not to relate (I am a nerd, not a geek), and came away relating with almost every story in some way, even if it wasn't in the geek aspect.

I gave this book four stars because I did enjoy all the stories. If I had to pick out the weakest piece in the book, it would collectively be the comics. But even those weren't boring or unenjoyable (I think I just invented a word). Not all the stories were so wow-worthy that I'd give this anthology 5 stars, but I did really enjoy it. I gave it a PG-13 for some sexual content (though not explicit), and possibly language. It seems that I always have a hard time recalling whether or not there's swearing in a book. But it wouldn't surprise me if there was some in Geektastic that I just forgot.

This book was really enjoyable. I'd recommend it to anyone who has ever felt left out because of their interests, anyone who considers themselves a geek or a nerd, and really, anyone who likes reading. In my experience, bookworms often are geeks, even if they won't admit it. After reading this anthology, I am proud to consider myself a geek.

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